by Carina Lawrence
Download Festival 2023 will mark their special 20th-anniversary edition, their biggest and longest festival yet, being four days instead of the usual three and taking place on 8-11th June 2023. Metallica, Bring Me The Horizon, and Slipknot headline a great year for the UK’s biggest rock festival, and Metallica will perform two headline sets with no repeat songs. As expected, their 20th-anniversary celebration boasts a mega line-up for a record-breaking year for the festival, as 2023’s event is the fastest-selling Download ever. Here are some reasons this year’s event is breaking records and some bands we are particularly excited to see added to the anniversary bill!
The biggest metal band in the world, Metallica, will headline two days of the festival with different no-repeat sets! No strangers to headlining the festival, but this will be the first time they have ever headlined twice at the same event! They will headline the opening day on Thursday, 8th June and again on Saturday, 10th June. They have yet to reveal what their two different sets will entail. Perhaps they will be dedicated to specific albums, such as playing their recently released new eleventh album ’72 Seasons’, in full, released on 14th April 2023, or maybe they will play one full album set. The next set might be crammed with all the best and most loved Metallica classics. Either way, we are excited – the more the Metallica, the better!
British rockers Bring Me The Horizon are headlining for the first time at the festival on Friday, 9th June. Some may be divided about their headline slot, but say what you will, as they are one of the most successful rock bands known for their explosive live performances. They have evolved over the years, but who knows, for their big headline event, they may even treat us to their early work back when they were known as a deathcore/metalcore band from their debut album, 2006’s ‘Count Your Blessings’. Regardless of what they play, it’s good to see a different modern band get the chance to headline rather than the usual heavyweight acts, so it will surely be an intriguing and exciting set!
Closing the festival on Sunday, 11th June is headliners Slipknot who, like Metallica, are no strangers to headlining at Download either, with their last headline set being in 2019, so it will be a welcome and mighty return for the Iowa act. Their latest album, 2022’s ‘The End, So Far’, is bound to make up some of their set, but no doubt they will mix it up with all their biggest metal hits spanning their career and go out on an explosive note to end this mega event.
Joining the headliners across the four days! Here are some picks across the day splits!
Tool and A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan will bring Puscifer to Download for the first time, so they are a rare band to check out.
Canadian hardcore punk band Cancer Bats is known for their insane and rowdy sets, and armed with the latest album, 2022’s ‘Psychic Jailbreak’, there is no stopping the carnage.
Ukrainian progressive groove metallers Jinjer are not to be missed with their impressive and crushing sound, which is hard to resist. Vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk has an incredible vocal range, as demonstrated by their popular viral track ‘Pieces’, and they have plenty of offerings to get you moving and moshing along.
Hard rockers Halestorm fronted by the powerhouse Lzzy Hale, are always on top form and never fail to impress. Armed with their latest stomping album, 2022’s ‘Back From The Dead’, some of their best and heaviest work, they will go down a storm at the festival!
Grammy award-winning Evanescence made a massive impact with their milestone debut 2003 album ‘Fallen’, which featured their hit single ‘Bring Me To Life’. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the album also, along with the festival’s anniversary, making it extra special and nostalgic. They have continued to release popular albums, their latest being 2021’s ‘The Bitter Truth’, which marked a triumphant return. Their set is bound to pull out all their best offerings from the newest album and massive hits such as ‘My Immortal’ and ‘Going Under’.
Symphonic metal band Within Temptation have a brilliant dark anthemic alluring yet uplifting sound which will be fantastic in the festival setting. Vocalist Sharon den Adel has a stunning voice and infectious stage presence. They have many hits, such as ‘Angels’, ‘Faster’, ‘The Reckoning’ and much more. Their last album ‘Resist’ was released in 2019, and with their new album set for release this year, it’s a safe bet to assume we will be graced with some new offerings!
Finnish Love Metal pioneer Ville Valo (VV) of HIM made a much-needed return with his solo debut album, ‘Neon Noir’ released earlier this year on 13th January. The Heartagram will surely be in full force to mark this momentous and joyous return.
British unstoppable metallers Architects keep improving and consistently deliver faultless and mesmerising sets, so this won’t be any different. They now have ten albums to choose from for their setlist, but we are likely to hear a lot from their latest 2022 album, ‘The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit.’
Disturbed will bring their signature metal sound and will likely share a track or two from their latest eighth album ‘Divisive’ released last year. Hopefully, we will hear their epic cover of ‘The Sound Of Silence’ amongst their best-known tracks such as ‘Down With The Sickness’, ‘Stricken’ and ‘Indestructible’ – they have plenty of anthemic hits to pull out.
Canadian post-hardcore act Alexisonfire has a great distinctive, hard-hitting and melodic sound. Their new album, ‘Otherness,’ their fifth album, marked their big return after thirteen long years and their first since they reunited in 2015, and luckily it didn’t disappoint.
American metallers Spirit Adrift have an unusual and brilliant doom melodic rock/metal medley. They have recently announced their new album’ Ghost At The Gallows’ which will be out on 18th August 2023 via Century Media Records, so the odds of getting some new tracks are very high!
Canadian rockers Three Days Grace know how to write some catchy rock anthems like the popular ‘I Hate Everything About You’, ‘Animal I Have Become’ and new tracks from their latest album released last year ‘Explosions’ with the memorable ‘So Called Life’ all of which will be perfect singalong festival tracks.
Swedish rock band GHOST is huge and known for their over-the-top eccentric stage presence to accompany their delightful yet dark melodic hits. Fronted by the mysterious frontman Tobias Forge. They surely won’t disappoint and will bring all their best and weirdest showmanship, hopefully treating us to all their top offerings such as ‘Mary On A Cross’, ‘Jesus He Knows Me’, and their latest tracks taken from their new hit album 2022’s ‘Impera’ which features the hard to resist songs ‘Call Me Little Sunshine’ and ‘Hunter’s Moon’. Their set has a lot of anticipation, so don’t miss it.
Swedish progressive metal supergroup Soen has an engaging and enchanting sound. Their latest album, 2021’s ‘Imperial’ is immense with tracks like ‘Monarch’ and ‘Antagonist’ with vocalist Joel Ekelöf’s flawless delivery and the band’s precision. They are a must-watch.
Polish extreme metallers Behemoth were pivotal to the Polish metal scene and have been around for over three decades, building their metal empire and getting better and bigger. Their twelfth latest album Opvs Contra Natvram is proof of this being their most ambitious and creative release yet but never losing any of their extreme roots.
New Delhi-based Indian Folk Metal band BLOODYWOOD has a fun, different and infectious sound, which is perfect for the festival setting to get everyone singing and moshing, so be prepared for a memorable and lively set as they play all the best hits, such as popular ‘Ari Ari’ and ‘Machi Bhasad’ from their impressive debut album ‘Rakshak’ (2022).
Acclaimed Mongolian rock band THE HU are another brilliantly unique band to catch and has taken the world by storm for it and has accumulated over 300 million combined streams. Last year THE HU were named UNESCO Artist For Peace, the first-ever rock/metal band to receive the prestigious accolade also, so big things are happening for the band and their latest sophomore album, ‘Rumble Of Thunder’ will sound mighty at the fest.
Check out the full lineup below!
*The Distillers will no longer be appearing at the festival, but Bad Religion has been added.
Download Festival UK will take place from 8th June to 11th June 2023.
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